I’ve received several emails over the past few weeks regarding my laptop incident on American Airlines. As some of you may recall, I was flying from Dallas to Miami and the flight attendant spilled orange juice on my laptop. I have a MacBook Air which features a solid state drive, and unfortunately if liquids reach the solid state drive the computer is more or less dead.
I was very calm about the situation and the flight attendant was incredibly apologetic, and even commented that she felt even worse that it happened to someone that was as understanding as me about the situation.
I asked her to request that somebody meet the flight to follow up regarding the issue. A lot of people gave me a hard time over this, saying it was a “DYKWIA” move (which wasn’t the intent), but frankly I was just doing what I’ve observed from previous experiences. While I’ve never had such an issue happen to me, I’ve observed similar issues happen to others, from spilling wine on an expensive t-shirt to Bose headphones being damaged by a flight attendant, and in each instance a supervisor automatically met the flight.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s that you can’t trust an airline’s word unless you have it in writing, so that was my goal by having someone in a position of authority meet the flight. I knew otherwise I’d more or less be pushed around and on my own. I also knew if the incident wasn’t documented almost immediately the chances of getting it resolved would decrease exponentially. I don’t think an email to customer relations a day after the incident would have gotten me anything but a form apology.
With that in mind, here’s what happened after making it back home. American’s Twitter team put me in touch with their risk management department, who contacted me within two days regarding my issue. They asked me to ship in my old laptop and they would reimburse me for a replacement. I was somewhat concerned about sending it in since I have lots of data on my laptop that I didn’t want to compromise, and at least in theory I assume someone could recover it.
I went to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store and asked what they would recommend, and they offered to physically remove the solid state drive, so that I could send in the laptop without it. I emailed the person at American to ask if they’d be alright with that, and after a couple of days they responded that they were fine with that. So I went back to the Genius Bar to have it removed, and the sent in the laptop with the power cord and manual.
They’ve promised me that the check is being processed (both for the laptop and my cost incurred shipping it to them, which I thought was generous), and they tell me that it will likely take at least 30 days till they get the check (since they’re in Chapter 11), and then they’ll send it to me.
So assuming that the check does eventually arrive, color me impressed.
The logical question many of you are probably asking is whether or not I got that resolution because I’m a blogger or not. I don’t know. I’m sure the speed with which I got a resolution has something to do with that, though I’d hope that they would solve this in a similar manner for everyone else as well. Based on what I’ve heard, even those that aren’t bloggers or that don’t have a lot of followers on Twitter still get their issues solved pretty quickly with airlines and hotels when using social media.
What did I learn from this experience?
- ALWAYS close or move your laptop when you’re being served on an airplane.
- Get documentation of the incident as soon as you land. Flight attendants can file a report on any airport computer, so have them do that as soon as you land, and make sure you get the case number, as well as their name and/or employee ID.
- I’ll stick to it, no matter what others say: request a supervisor immediately, because these cases are so rare that most employees really don’t know how to handle them. I was pushed around from the gate to the Admirals Club to baggage claim to customer relations at the beginning, and it wasn’t until I was put in touch with someone higher up that I got any sort of a resolution.
So there you have it, that’s my update for those of you that were wondering.